Government pledges to help Ford workers

The Government will do all it can to help Ford workers bounce back from losing their jobs, a minister said. Fareham MP Mark Hoban said he had been “frustrated” by the motor giant’s plans to shut its Swaythling plant, but said it had been the victim of “the global economy”.

The Employment Minister was speaking to the Daily Echo yesterday as new figures were published showing the scale of unemployment across Hampshire. And his comments came as a Southampton vehicle upholsterer became the latest victim of Ford’s decision to quit the city.

Some 30 jobs are to go at Magna Seating, which has played a key part in the Transit production line over the years from its factory in Swaythling, next door to Ford.

Bosses at the international firm say “there is no longer a viable business case” for the facility in light of the Ford closure bombshell. A Magna spokesman described the closure plan as a “difficult decision”, adding: “Magna Seating will assist, where possible, with the transfer of employees into other Magna facilities where there are openings.”

On top of the 500 jobs lost at Ford and 30 posts at Magna, hundreds more are expected to go in the local supply chain. Mr Hoban said the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership was working with Job Centre Plus to help sacked workers use their skills in other jobs.

But he admitted the recovery would be “a long process”. He added: “No one is happy with a plant like that closing, it’s been part of the fabric of south east Hampshire for some time, so it is frustrating. “But I think we have to recognise that this is a global economy, economies have to adapt and change to survive, and this is one of the challenges that Ford faces as a company, and one of the challenges we face as a country too.”